Pastor Sunday Emmanuel Akande is a Senior Pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He is a man with vibrating passion for evangelism and structural development. Recently, he was appointed as the National Overseer succeeding his predecessor, Pastor Joseph Obayemi. In this exclusive interview with Beautiful Day Magazine, Akande shares his excitement on his appointment by the General Overseer and speaks broadly on his vision to further enhance spiritual, human and structural development of the Redemption City. Excerpts:
Once again, congratulations sir, on your new appointment as the National Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God.
We give God all the glory.
Sir, what first came to your mind when it was announced that you are the next National Overseer?
Laugh… It was the greatest shock of one’s life because it’s not something you pray about, it is not something that you say you saw the vision, at a time when some believed to be retired. I give the glory to God because nothing happened without His approval and if God has approved it, who are you to say no. That is exactly my feeling, and then while I have no option because you are not consulted, you are just called that God said; and if God has spoken, who am I to say no. But we give God the glory. If He is the one that directed, he will give us the grace and the enablement to do the job.
RCCG Camp is now known or called Redemption City. Sir, what do you intend to do to reflect this new status in your administration?
That’s a very big question, but we are trusting God because it’s not something that one has been praying or planning for but it came suddenly and since then, we have been talking to God on what and what He wants us to change or what is on ground that He wants us to build upon so that it can become a city, not just for the RCCG, but the one Christendom will be proud of even far better than the Vatican City. So, for now, it’s still young for me to release what I have in mind but the work is ongoing which I believe very soon people will begin to see the master planning in Jesus name.
On the issue of accommodations in the city, there are some cases of impersonation, what do you plan to do to address this?
That is part of the things I just said now, because we are just coming in new. It does mean that I’m a visitor to the city, but we are now talking about the administration of the city. Though we are hearing something, but as far as am concerned, I just see it as insinuations as of now. But we are working towards making sure everyone residing in this city will be identified. That I can boldly say because I don’t believe in hearsay. It is then we can boldly say, there are some people residing in our camp that they suppose not to be there. But for now, we are working on how to identify and to know who is who in camp. I believe very soon people will begin to hear and see what and what we have in mind on identifying everyone residing in this camp. I strongly believe very soon it will come to the open those who are just hiding somewhere. Who are they? Who brought them in? And how come they manage to live in this camp without the approval of the authority? Maybe there are some who can identify them and normalize their stay but for now, the plan is ongoing.
On commercial transportation, the shuttle buses and tricycles have been observed not to be working early on Sundays and as such, many people and residents who are workers in churches inside the camp are stranded. They have to trek from a distance. What do you intend to do to bring relief to that class of people?
Your question is still cycling the same matter. We are just coming in and some of these complaints we have it on our table, we are looking at it. Some committees have been set up to oversee the entire city; to look at the estates and advise us on what to do and I want to believe the committees are starting work in earnest. I want to wait for their suggestions because all kind of committees have been set up now to look holistically into everything that is happening inside this camp in all areas and not just only on transportation, but on the environment par say. So, we are trying to raise committees here and there, because I alone cannot do this work. The committees will help us to look in all areas and bring out their recommendations which we are waiting for. I want to believe that in the next few months people will begin to see changes but we just have to exercise patience to be sure that we get it right, and I’m not saying that we’ve not being getting it right in the past but we need to sit down and look at the whole thing holistically and see how we can improve on what we met on ground. Then, we can introduce new things. So, I want people to just give us some little space, very soon, they will begin to see those changes coming in, in Jesus name.
On the issue of market, especially during the programme on camp, there are some designated places allowed for market but we still find situations where traders stand along the road to display their wares. Then for the media like us, we have no designated place and we all know that media is very important for information dissemination. What will you do to correct this?
Well, number one, we need to understand one thing. When we have our major programme, we have thousands, millions of people coming. No matter the rules and regulations we have on ground, we all know in Africa it’s always difficult for us to abide with the rules but we are trying to restructure our security network and our information programme to be sure that before the programme, there is enough information to all our people to go to designated places for whatever they want to do. That we will not allow anybody displaying anything by the roadside. We are believing God that through the security and proper information to the people, there will be a change.
The issue of the press, I want to believe there is a press before I came. So, they have been operating ever since and we will like to hear maybe they don’t have a place or they have a place. I wouldn’t say much for now because there is no request for that and then, very soon when we will be having some chats with some people, some of these things will come up because we have intention to have chats with some of these people soon for all of us to put our heads together to make this city a place to be proud of. I believe maybe when we have that, some of these things will come up. I will try to look into it and make recommendations to our father in the Lord.
Sir, that reminds me of the church’s Redemption Light. We know that the department is no more functional, do you have anything in mind concerning that?
Well, we will look at it by the grace of God. I just need some time to be able to sort some of these things out one by one. We will look at them because we cannot really function without the press and we will like the correct information to be going out from the city. So, there is no doubt we need the press. It is not something we jump at, that is why I said by the time we settle down more, we will look into some of these things and see how we can bring it up again if it is not really functioning and if it is functioning, we will see how we can reconfigure it to become what we want it to be.
On the issue of church planting, we know by RCCG vision and mission statements that in every city of developing countries there should be five minutes driving distance for siting parishes from each other, but if you look at the camp now, you will discover that, that is not the idea. Do you intend to do anything about this?
Well, immediately I resumed, one of my instructions is that no more establishment of parishes in this camp for now. The one we have already we will look at how we can work on them because when we look at this camp now, there are lots of not well-planted parishes left, right and centre. We want to thank God that people are attending but we still need to look at them closely. We are studying them and by the grace of God, the instruction of our father will be followed. However, we cannot just go and say close down. The only thing we can do for now is to make sure no more establishment of new parishes until we get the ones on ground reorganized. That is what we are doing for now.
On that note sir, are you saying during the next Let’s-Go-A-Fishing, all the parishes on camp will not plant parishes or they will go outside to do that?
Well for now, at least for this December until we know what is happening, there are some parishes that cannot be called a parish on this camp. We have given them instruction to look closely into some of these parishes. How we can raise their standard. Definitely, one or two will go out to go and plant parishes during the Go-A-Fishing but our main focus on this December is on so many parishes that cannot be called parish because of the situation of the place. If we say this place is going to be a kind of city that all of us will be proud of bringing visitors to, then proper things must be done. You see, many people may not look at our beautiful parishes but will go and look at the shanties and begin to take pictures of them. So, we want to start looking at that, at least all those shanties that we have, how can we renovate or rebuild them to make them become standard before we start going out into other towns and states to establish more parishes. The Yoruba’s say ‘Ile lan wo ka to somo loru ko’ (a child is named after parents). So, we want to closely look at what we have on ground, which ones can we call parish and which ones cannot be called parish, and at least close it down or say move to this place and make that place more beautiful for people to worship in.
For some of us, we know that you are a revivalist and we want to thank God for what you have started already. We have heard about the new fire of Solution Hour at the House of Favour Headquarter Parish; will we see more of this revival on camp?
We have started already and we are not going to stop. Every month, Solution Hour will be coming up every Wednesday and every month we are going to have “It Is My Turn” which will bring all the churches in camp together. We started with seven days of praise this month of November. We are going to have another all-night Friday this November. All the parishes in camp and everyone in camp are expected in this programme and we are trusting what God has started will not stop. The revival has started, the revival in camp has started, the fire has started burning and we are trusting God the fire will never go down again in Jesus Name.
For every office, there should always be a vision. What is in your mind to achieve within a reasonable time and what do you hope to see in the camp in the next two years?
I have a mandate and that mandate is to make the camp a city of God. So, my primary vision is to bring the camp to a level and a standard where everybody can be proud of; not just an ordinary town but a city where the Lord resides, where children of God are proud of, a city whereby all of us will have the peace of mind, a city where things work. You know one of the major problems in Nigeria is for things to work well. So, our vision is to have a city where things work, where people can sleep and close their eyes, a city where God is our security and we have enough physical securities to take care of any miscreant that may want to intrude into our midst. We have a big vision for this place and we are trusting God with prayer and the prayer of our father in the Lord, prayer of the men of God and people who are able to see the vision with us, we know we will get there in Jesus name.
Recently, there have been some epileptic supply of electricity, particularly during major programmes in camp, and we have noticed that there was tariff increment, is it the way to address the power failure or any other plan to make sure that the city has a stable light?
I want to say to the glory of God that in order to address the issue of epileptic supply, the electricity in camp has been handed over to a private sector who is now running the power sector of the camp and they have given us assurance of a regular supply of electricity. We are trusting God because the problem was not the fault of the technical department but a part of Nigeria’s problem. Our major equipment in camp is powered primarily by gas, and secondarily by diesel and we all know the cost of diesel now in this nation. So, our prayer is that the gas will be regular, which I believe if gas is regular, you don’t expect any power outage for now. Another thing is the maintenance of our equipment. I want to assure the people that with the private sector handling it now, the bureaucracy of the ministry is off because we now have a private sector running it. To the defence of those who are running it, there is no doubt about the fact that we are literally using electricity for free in this camp because you cannot compare what we are collecting here to other electricity outlets. That is, what we are charging by kilowatt-hour compared with what the National electricity supply is charging. That is the truth of the matter. So, I am not surprised that the newly coming in company has to increase the tariff. The only thing we need is to keep on praying for them to keep giving us constant power. That’s the only thing we need to pray for and also keep on praying for the Nigeria system, too, so that we will continue to improve and continue to have regular supply of gas because if there is no gas, I don’t know how much we are going to pay for them to give us 24hrs with diesel with what diesel is saying today in this nation. But I believe that having the private people running it, we are expecting a regular power supply in the camp.
But with that development, what now happens to the former staff members of the electrical department?
The staff have been absorbed by the new company. All the staff of the electrical department as I’m talking now, they are no longer RCCG staff … but I strongly believe for now they have all been absorbed by the new management. What follows, you will hear later.
What advice do you have for all residents of this city and visitors?
By the grace of God helping us, there will be peace in this city of God. I want to say that all residents should cooperate with us because so many things will be coming forth. Because we want people to know who and who resides in this camp, very soon, we may require more information from every resident so that we will be able to identify them and identify those who are not supposed to be in the camp. That will help us a lot and even check all the unwanted visitors because we are trying to strengthen our security department too that whoever comes in should be able to identify the fellow that is coming in. Who is he coming to visit? We are working towards that. All that I can advise the residents is to cooperate with us. Let us see ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us be our brothers’ keepers.
Again, every resident must take authority of whatever happens in their house. If you are the one allowing miscreants in your house, we will not be happy with that, we will have to look closely into that. So, if there is any resident that feels that the fellow that is living in his house, he is not so sure about him, they should either ask the fellow to quickly leave because we will not take such people kindly. Talking about insecurity, these people are not just coming but they have been encouraged by somebody. Somebody must have brought them to this camp, somebody must have given them accommodation. All I want to say, because the rule of this camp is that you are entitled to one house; you can build your own house with the approval of the General Overseer but you are not authorized to sell the house without clearance from the authority, you are not authorized to rent the house out to anybody. They gave you a permission to build your own place of residence not to build houses for rent. So, if we have people like that, I will encourage them to quickly normalize what they need to normalize, so that it will not create problem for them in the future. We don’t build house for rent in the camp, but if anyone has built house for rent in this camp, he should quickly do the right thing because the approval given to him is for residence not to build and rent out. So, we believe very soon the residents will enjoy staying in camp in Jesus name.
You said normalize, if you have been given authority to build and probably you want to sell, you should take approval before you do that. Now you have built and you want to rent it out, what are the steps to be taken?
When I say normalize, you have to go to the authority. There is authority in charge of that. If you go to the authority, they will check your license because everybody has license here signed with the legal department. If we go through the license and you fall short of the law, they know what to do. My own is just to advise them but the normal authority knows what to do when we get to that.
Thank you, sir, for having us.
You are welcome.